6 ways to beat the post Christmas holiday blues

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·Features and Health Editor
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  • Mental health
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Not feeling as relaxed and refreshed as you'd hoped after your Christmas break? Given that this festive period was tipped for many to be the most stressful ever that doesn't seem surprising.

If you're back to work, have an empty social calendar, or a dwindling bank balance, you could be at risk of descending into a feeling of post-activity depression.

Young beautiful woman relaxing on window sill in christmas decorated home. Holiday concept
Post-holiday blues are a real thing. Photo: Getty

The experts at private rehab centre Delamere have delved into different techniques that can be used to avoid the inevitable post-Christmas slump and shared them with Yahoo Lifestyle here:

1. Don’t make New Year’s resolutions that can’t be achieved

"One of the main things that can leave you feeling defeated before the new year has even begun, are unrealistic resolutions. For example, if you work long hours and don’t get a chance to exercise very much, telling yourself that you will go to the gym every day in the new year could be starting too ambitiously.

Rather than this, you could set yourself the target of trying to achieve more steps throughout the day, or hitting the gym once or twice a week - after this, you can naturally increase.

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Similarly, if you find yourself eating too much sugar or struggling with portion sizes, trying a fad New Year’s diet could lead to disordered eating habits. Instead, try to seek out intuitive eating pages, and ask yourself whether it is really your health that you would like to change, or your physical appearance due to societal pressures.

If somebody has experienced addiction in the past, setting the goal of going cold turkey could also be something that adds a lot of pressure to an already straining situation.

Instead of this, attempt to set smaller goals for yourself, such as joining an online support group or even speaking out to a friend or relative about your struggles. This may not seem like much, but can be the springboard for something much bigger in the future."

Tired after exercise and workout. Overtraining concept. Exhausted woman lying on floor breathing and resting after heavy cardio training in home gym. Sad fitness athlete. Too much working out.
Many of our most unrealistic resolutions are around health and fitness. Photo: Getty

2. Don’t overwhelm yourself with social engagements

"Despite socialising being proven to have a positive effect on our mental health, committing to too much can sometimes work against us. While it can be very nice to have a full social calendar, it can seem a little overwhelming to have no time to recharge your batteries throughout the week.

Because of this, it is crucial that you set time aside for yourself. If you are going to a social event at the weekend, set aside the following day to emotionally gather yourself, rather than pushing yourself to go out again - this could possibly lead to feeling burnt out and deflated.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you do not designate a rest day for yourself, then your body will do it for you when it eventually runs out of fuel. It is always helpful to make time to read, catch up on your favourite television shows, cook a nutritious meal or go for a peaceful walk, as this will leave you feeling replenished and ready to tackle the week ahead."

friends gathering
Committing to too much socially can sometimes work against us. Photo: Getty

3. Try to limit your screen time

"This may be an obvious one, but spending too much time on our phones can be disastrous for a number of reasons. One of the benefits of deleting Instagram or Twitter, even temporarily, is that it stops us from mindlessly scrolling.

A recent study highlighted that people were spending a whopping 6.4 hours on their phones every day, along with staring at screens while working and watching TV. As well as distracting us from important things we should be doing, like cleaning, talking to friends or doing laundry, it also leaves people with unrealistic expectations of their own lives.

Being constantly bombarded with perfect airbrushed images, along with photos of influencers sipping cappuccinos in Paris while we are working a nine to five, is destined to eventually have a negative effect on our mental health.

Instagram actually increases dopamine (the happy chemical), so endless scrolling can lead to us relying on likes and story views to be happy. Too much social media consumption is a guaranteed anxiety trigger once the festive season is over."

woman reading a book
Put the phone down and grab a book instead. Photo: Getty

4. Get back into reading

"As previously mentioned, many of us would struggle to get through several hundred words before being tempted to look at our phones. With the human attention span dropping to just eight seconds, getting back into the habit of reading can be easier said than done.

However, nothing shuts out the world and the post-Christmas blues like losing yourself in a great story. 

With studies showing that reading fiction is more effective when it comes to relaxation than listening to music or even exercising. There has never been a better time to treat yourself to a paperback in the post-Christmas sales.

Rather than starting with a challenging read, start with a shorter novel. This way, it may be easier to remain occupied, and will allow you to build up to longer, more complex books as your brain becomes accustomed to reading again."

5. Set reminders to call your family

During the festive period, most people are surrounded by friends and relatives, and spend more time with their family than at any point during the year. Once this is over, it is natural to feel deflated - especially if your family members live a long way away from you.

Due to this, it could be helpful to set a reminder on your phone to check in once a week. Choosing a specific day would mean that both you and your family or friends have a catch-up to look forward to.

For most people, speaking to their family members can leave them feeling refreshed and recharged, as well as alleviating feelings of guilt over not being able to see them for long periods throughout the year. For very close-knit families, the end of the festive period can come with a variety of negative feelings, so try to stay in touch as often as possible."

6. Try to appreciate your surroundings and ‘look up’

For anybody that saw the 2019 blockbuster ‘Last Christmas’, the phrase “look up” will sound familiar. The film focused on a man trying to teach his love interest to notice the world around her, showing her undiscovered parks to sit and read, along with intriguing architecture throughout the London streets.

The world, especially for city-dwellers, can seem especially bleak and dreary sometimes. However, it could be beneficial to remind yourself to ‘look up’ as you walk to work in the morning, as you make your way to meet your friend at the pub, or even as you nip over the road to go to the shops.

It is easy to take our surroundings for granted, but taking the time to notice the little things could lead to stolen mini-moments of joy in the most everyday scenarios."

Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.

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